Goldman Sachs Foundation

FUNDING AREAS:  Veterans, business and community support and development, education.  

ANNUAL GIVING: $40 million 

IP TAKE: Strong focus on business education, and small business economic development. Gives thousands of grants, but becoming more focused in certain areas. 

PROFILE: Founded in 1869, Goldman Sachs is one of the largest investment banking institutions in the world, with nearly $42 billion in revenues last year, and nearly 33,000 employees. At one time, the company had a stellar reputation in the financial community, although their reputation took a major hit when the economy collapsed in 2008, based on what many felt was irresponsible risk-taking. Of course, companies like Goldman rely on their reputation to increase business, so the company's positive PR machine has been on overdrive in recent years. A few years back, they moved themselves into a "green" building just a block or so from the original World Trade Center site. The Foundation has also invested millions in the green energy industry, albeit mostly in Japan.

Whether it’s completely sincere or just a shallow PR move, their commitment to philanthropy, through the Goldman Sachs Foundation, began to soar when the economy started to tank. During a time in which the economy was tumbling hard and fast, the Goldman Sachs Foundation announced a $100 million commitment to a five-year program called 10,000 Women, which aims to train women around the world in management and business. Following that, the corporate foundation pledged $500 million to their 10,000 Small Businesses campaign, aiming to provide that many businesses with business assistance and support for a five-year period.

Also in 2009, the company committed $500 million to Goldman Sachs Gives, which they describe as a "donor-advised" fund they established in 2007. They added another $320 million in 2010, before that commitment fell to $78 million in 2011, when their profits dropped and perhaps when they figured people were watching less closely. The Goldman Sachs Gives program was purportedly designed to give maximum impact to nonprofits in the areas of veterans affairs, community support, education, and jobs and economic growth. 

Regardless of public opinion of Goldman Sachs' business dealings, its corporate foundation regularly shells out $40 million to $50 million annually in grants. Of course, there's one not-so-small caveat in that total grantmaking--55 to 75 percent of the Foundation's total grantmaking is awarded out of its 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses Programs. Here's what those recent grants look like: 

  • $2.6 million to the Indian School of Business toward the cost of implementing the 10,000 Women certificate program at the school
  • $1.2 million to the University of Leeds to implement the 10,000 Small Businesses program
  • $850,000 to LaGuardia Community College toward the cost of implementing the 10,000 Small Businesses program

When all is said and done, the Goldman Sachs Foundation recently awarded close to $2 million in what it refers to as "other grantmaking." These grants included the following: 

  • $913,000 to the Bridgespan Group to support the evaluation costs of the 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses Programs
  • $325,000 to the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship "to support the convening of social entrepreneurs"
  • $242,000 to Scholarship America in support of its Blaine Scholarship and Young Scholarship Programs 

The Goldman Sachs Foundation has stuck to their main focus of education designed to support of careers in business and financial services. Goldman has been on Fortune magazine's list of 100 best companies to work for, based not just on the average salary, which is around $300,000 per year, but also based on its willingness to support employee philanthropy. The Goldman Gives' Community TeamWorks program encourages more than 20,000 Goldman employees to take a day off during the summer months and help out a local nonprofit in the communities in which they operate.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation has made a very strong verbal commitment to philanthropy. The follow through is leaving a little something to be desired so far. Goldman Sachs, the company, earns billion in revenue and they have made a large number of executives and employees very rich. The company has endowed a $550 million foundation, however, Goldman Sachs has been criticized for its failure to give above the minium amount as required by the IRS. In some years, this amount hovered at the bare minimum of five percent, which is required to retain nonprofit status. In its most recent years, the Goldman Sachs Foundation has upped that number a bit to 7.5 percent of their assets. This increase in giving, as small as it may be, came even after the Foundation suffered a nearly $9 million loss in value. Let's hope that in the coming years that the Foundation will continue to increase its giving, not incrementally as it has done in the past, but significantly. 


  • Dina Powell, President, 200 West Street 29th Floor, New York, NY 10282, (212) 902-4233